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September 1, 2015

HBO channels to go all Hi-Def by 2008

by Richard Keller, posted Jun 19th 2007 11:01AM

All HBO and Cinemax channels to go hi-def by 2008Is a series-ending black-out even more vibrantly black in high-definition? Well, subscribers of HBO and Cinemax will find out next year when the entire multiplex of pay-cable channels goes hi-def.

According to Bill Nelson, chairman and CEO of the networks, the conversion to HD for all 26 HBO and Cinemax channels will begin later this year and be completed by the 2nd quarter of 2008.

According to Nelson the move "further solidifies HBO's leadership in the premium category." Actually, Home Box Office was the first national network to offer HD feeds, with HBO HDTV launching in 1999 and Cinemax HDTV in 2003. Of course, no one could afford HDTVs at that time, so that fact has probably been forgotten.

Hey, standard cable channels, are you listening? Better get your butts in gear and make your channels high-def for the ever-increasing population of HDTV owners. Whether you like or not the future is coming fast.

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"Hi-def" eh? I subscribe the 1st generation, Digicipher II HBO feeds on 4DTV (C-band dish). The picture quality is a good as HBO gets because the cablecos and pizza dish pimps simply recompress and rebroadcast the same feeds. Unfortunately, as good as HBO gets isn't very good these days. HBO "HD" PQ continues the decline of the last few years. The bitrate is only about 1/2 the ATSC maximum or ~10 mbps, not counting null packets, of course. Keep in mind that 10 mbps is the maximum permitted by the DVD standard and DVD is not even and HD format (720x480x30fps, max). Clearly 10mbps won't cut it for true HD.

Another telling observation is I can view an HBO 16:9 standard-def show like "Flight of the Conchords" (not produced in "HD") and scale the video to fill my 50" DLP screen. It looks no worse than the so called HBO "HD" offerings! This indicates that the HBO "HD" programs don't actually deserve to be marketed as HD.

At least Showtime and Starz occasionally air programs approaching the 19.4 mbps ATSC maximum, but with Showtime, you have to suffer through those annoying Showtime advertising banners, interrupting your movie to promote the latest Showtime series.

I'm actually only happy with Starz these days, when it comes to broadcasting a quality product. I expect the "HD-light" marketing machine to continue. What an industry wide rip-off! Please write these broadcasters and demand better picture quality and uninterrupted programming.

August 16 2007 at 7:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

Josh I agree. I wish NBC Universal would hurry up and put USA and SciFi in HD. It makes no sense.

June 19 2007 at 1:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Even with compression, there's no way an HD channel can look worse than an SD one. Besides, only the networks are OTA. We're never gonna get HBO or any other cable channel that way.

USA Network is the #1 cable channel I want in HD. I was really hoping they'd get there by now so that we could enjoy The 4400 in widescreen HD.

June 19 2007 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, I guess that means Comcast will have half of them by 2012.

June 19 2007 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How's that OTA HBO treating you?

June 19 2007 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

HD on cable is a joke. With the horrific compression, it looks worse than standard-def. OTA is the way to go.

June 19 2007 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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